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As Southwark Cyclists we extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Mrs Briggs, whom this court case sadly remembers.

Nothing that is said here is intended to diminish the seriousness with which we must all take every death on the road or our sympathy for the relatives left behind.

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The case raises related issues, and we would welcome if the transcript of the case be shared, and the specific circumstances be more clearly understood. As we understand it the cyclist was on the south side heading in a westerly direction, near the junction with Charlotte Road here (based on ),-0.0811601,3a,62.9y,245.83h,80.69t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sZPu2DP_v9kpI2NTHjaekgw!2e0!5s20150501T000000!7i13312!8i6656,-0.0820396,3a,49.3y,89.03h,90.28t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sFGIvOtUYKSQDOb5xXkc5aA!2e0!5s20140701T000000!7i13312!8i6656

Have the circumstances and vehicle positions, and pedestrians, at the time around the collision been clearly presented? This is a TfL Red Route and busy A-Road. It has a loading bay right next to the pedestrian crossing, where where parked vans or lorries create a narrow single lane for a cyclist to move/align into, immediately after the signalled junction.

 Alliston was reported to say online after the collision:

“The pedestrian stepped off of the pavement… I’d call it the ‘safe zone’ as there was a lorry parked in a loading bay which came out quite far. Once she passed that I warned for a second time… Because traffic was flowing she stopped dead in my path. I didn’t have enough time to fully slow down. And if I’d of gone left, I would have gone straight into the back of the lorry, if I would of gone right I would of potentially gone head on into an oncoming vehicle… “

 From the trial, it has been reported:

  • ‘Charlie Alliston, 20, hit 44-year-old Kim Briggs at between 15mph and 18mph as she crossed Old Street in Shoreditch in her lunch hour on 12 February 2016’ (CPS)
  • ‘He was a minimum of between 6.65 and 9.65 metres away from Mrs Briggs’ (Metro)
  • ‘He was a minimum of 6.65 metres away as Mrs Briggs stepped out into the road when he swerved and tried to take evasive action’ (Newshopper)
  • ‘prosecution case was that Alliston was 6.53 metres away when Briggs stepped out’ (Guardian)
  • ‘Alliston was doing between 10mph and 14mph as he tried to avoid the collision’ (Metro)
  • ‘Mrs Briggs stepped into the road 3.8 seconds before the crash’ (Sky)
  • ‘the collision occurred approximately 30 feet [~9m] after the crossing’ (Standard)

 Alliston was reported to be an estimated 6.65 metres away when Alliston ‘swerved’, and Mrs Briggs ‘stepped out’. But it’s not clear where Mrs Briggs was before she (a) ‘stepped out’, how she (b) ‘stepped into the road’, as the two don’t appear to be at the same place.

We ask, as the cyclist was reported to be traveling at approx 18mph (8m/s) on approach, and it was reported that 3.8 seconds later he was doing about 10 – 14mph (4.5m/s – 6.3m/s) at time of impact. The 3.8 seconds represents a distance of between 17 – 30 metres (at the min/max speeds given), when Mrs Briggs ‘stepped into the road’ in front of the cyclist. Or in Highway Code parlance, between 4 and 7 car lengths away before collision. Where average car length is 4m (13ft) as used in the Highway Code.

Many factors can impact stopping distances including;

  • cyclist’s weight
  • body position over bike
  • tyres
  • road surfaces
  • medication
  • attentiveness

As this was also a track bike, it may also have had been geared differently making it harder to slow suddenly from 18mph through the pedals, compared to other fixed wheeled road bike set ups.

Specific to this case, Allison chose not to fix a front brake, and had intent to ride with reduced breaking ability on a track race bike. This makes his risk to others more dangerous when cycling. It is also an illegal bike to use on public road.

Often such tragic collisions arise from a combination of contributory factors. The lack of a front brake was the most significant.

We hope we all can learn from this tragedy by understanding the circumstances, and as a result have roads made safer for all vulnerable road users.

“This investigation has highlighted the necessity for all cyclists to have the required brakes on their bikes, whether they be a fixed wheel or free wheeling hub cycle. It should act as a reminder to all road users that they have a responsibility to look out for each other and to travel safely at all times.

We thank Francis Bernstein for this analysis

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